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As FIS Turns 50, CEO Talks History, Future of JAX-Based FinTech Leader

Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Information Systems (NYSE: FIS) is celebrating its 50th year in business. The financial technology company, founded in Little Rock, Ark., brought in $2.1 billion in its most recent fiscal year and boasts more than 20,000 clients across more than 130 countries.

The Fortune 500 company moved from California to Jacksonville in 2003 as a subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial Inc. (NYSE: FNF) before becoming an independent company in 2006. FIS provides more than 400 products focused on software, financial services and cloud outsourcing.

CEO Gary Norcross discussed the company’s evolution over the last 50 years and his vision for its future with the Jacksonville Business Journal.

How has the pace of technology change accelerated over time, and where do you see it going?

Having been in business now for 50 years, we’ve seen a lot of technology changes. I would argue over the last 50 years, they’ve been incremental. …We’re in a true monumental shift now to this next generation. It really is a modernization of all of our capabilities…

We’re excited about it, but we’re certainly on one of the largest modernization transformations we’ve been in our company’s history. We started about three years ago, so we’ve been heavily investing in our software and our delivery over the last three years. Really, when we started this program, we saw a five-year timeframe to deliver on this modernization. I will tell you we’re in really good shape on that plan. It is a significant investment. This is not the time to step back and wait to see where this is going to end up. I think there are clear indicators where technology is evolving to, what the end state needs to look like, and at FIS, we’re leading the way.

What role have acquisitions played in FIS’s development? What role do you see for them going forward?

We’ve never had an acquisition strategy for the sake of doing acquisitions. Our acquisition strategy has always followed a simple strategy, which is to bring a new product or service to an existing market we serve or break us into a desirable, adjacent market. The perfect scenario is it brings both. If you step through the acquisitions we’ve done over the years, every one of them fits those two components.

It really starts with how we think about innovation. As we think about it, we’re going to lead the industry in investing in our existing capabilities. This year, we’ll put about 7 percent of existing revenues back into the product in the form of capital … We do a number of early-stage venture capital-like investments … We also look at accelerators … .That’s very early stage where we’re looking five years and beyond. We do one accelerator every year; we’ve done three now. They’ve been extremely successful by any measure. We’ve committed now to do a fourth. Last year, we had well over 200 applicants world-wide for 10 slots. On average, maybe 10 percent of companies coming out of accelerators move on to funding rounds; we’ve averaged well over 80 percent…

How would you characterize the competitive landscape, and where do you put FIS in that?

Our competitors are under a state of change as well. We’re seeing a lot of new disruptors come into the space. It’s still early, whether any of these disruptors will gain real market share. We continue to not only look at our competitors that have been consistent over the years, but also we look at who’s coming in and trying to disrupt the industry. At FIS, given our size and scale, we don’t like to get our eye off anybody. We like to make sure we’re trying to keep up with everything that’s going on. We also spend a lot of time disrupting ourselves.

From a competitive standpoint, I’ve never felt better about the company. I think we’re extremely well positioned in the market to not only compete but continue to take market share.

What are some short-term goals you have for FIS, things you see coming in the next year or so?

We’ve got a lot going on … . When you really look at where the industry is going, and you really look at where technology is being driven, all those platforms are going to be modernized. We’ve got huge initiatives around cloud deployment. By the end of this year, we’ll have over 50 percent of our total compute in the FIS private cloud. When you look at what we’re doing around modernization and digitization, we’re now rolling out our third generation of digital, which is pretty amazing considering if you go back five or six years ago, not many people even knew what digitization was… Opening up our systems to be more robust, open and agile are all going to be important things.